Tin Towns and Other Excel Fictions

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Tin Towns and Other Excel Fictions is an ongoing, open-ended collection of short fiction experiments that explore the obscurities and unintended consequences of human technology over the centuries.  The genesis was an investigation into some of the causes of the end of the Bronze Age, including the shortage of tin.  Critical developments in metals, nuclear energy, farming practices, and biological warfare are just some of the topics included in these works.

Author's statement: 

We normally think of fiction narratives as represented in linear text.  Yet, electronic literature works – the born digital varieties - have been created with and contained in a range of innovative and often non-linear applications.

Tin Towns and Other Excel Fictions experiments with making fiction using spreadsheets and other Excel templates.  The content of each “metastory” is necessarily shaped by the architecture of each specific application.  The basic spreadsheet layout allowed a compression of both time and space into formulae, but other useful formats were also available.  As the project builds, I am using budget makers, billing statements, yearly and perpetual calendars, expense reports, blood pressure trackers, loan amortizations, tinkle potty charts, nursing schedule charts, party planners, memos, display booth diagrams, schedules, breakeven interactive charts, and time sheets.  I am not wedded to correct application or function of the apps – they are a way of framing and commenting on the fact that, for all the quantification of our economy (as a way of understanding the world), many important elements may not be factored in.

This project is a suite of stories that gather a set of “data points” reflecting intersections in technology, history, economics, and memory that tell a tale of human behavior and unexpected loss. Tin Towns and Other Excel Fictions contains works about mega-events that include historical periods from the collapse of the Bronze Age to the 9-11 and the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster.  In looking at the reconfigured data for these events, we begin to explore how our narratives of understanding (or misunderstanding) are assembled.

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Amber Strother